Quiz Question: What would you do?

Here is a quiz question that I got wrong, according to the source (www.pokersnowie.com). It is a $2.5/$5 cash game, 5 players, you are on the button with AQ of clubs. You raise to 15, get min-3bet by the small blind to $30, the big blind calls, and you call. That may not be a great play preflop, but let’s assume that is how it played out. And, let’s pretend that our opponent is a solid player, not a genius or complete fish or maniac.

The flop comes QJT rainbow with no clubs. The SB leads for full pot, $90. The bb folds. The quiz gives the choice of fold, call 90, or raise 225. I said I would call, and the site says the correct decision is to fold because your hand is “fragile” and that you will split if you hit your straight. It says that it would be better to call with J9 or KT. I think that folding top pair top kicker with a gutshot to the nuts is a pretty bad decision. I’ll give my reasoning, but what do you think?

First off, I do not understand how you split the pot if you make a straight. Your opponent could be betting like this with Q9, J9, T9, 98, all of which you beat if a king hits. Maybe they are assuming that your opponent has a 3-bet range of like TT+, AK, which you are crushed by, but I don’t think they would be leading like this with AA or maybe even KK because the flop also hits your calling range hard. Of course they could have flopped the nuts with AK, but would they really bet full pot? (possibly, but not necessarily since you have many hands they want you to call with) And what hands are they min-3betting with? It seems more likely that they have 2 pair like QJ, QT, JT (which you have ~30+% equity against), a pair plus draw like KQ, KJ, KT, Q9, J9, or T9 (all of which you are beating). They could also have sets.

I did a range calculation with all of the hands I mentioned, and AQ of clubs has between 35% and 43% equity against their range (with slight tweaks to the range). This certainly merits at least one call, especially since it is a pretty strong part of your range (since you would 4-bet AA, KK, and possibly AK/QQ). Once I gave them only the suited variants of the weaker broadway hands, our equity goes down to under 29%, but even that is not too far from a call. Am I wrong?

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I would have called also.

When you do live comentary the scene is already set, when its comentary of taped play usually the scene is set for you… there is so little information… that the only correct play, with information given, is fold. With that few ppl you play alot of hands against the same ppl quickly, it starts to become more about the players than the cards… that part of it we just don’t know, as well as chipstacks.

You see… this is where math looses its luster. Also, this appears to be a limit game hand. In abstract you raised the max 3x, he dbbl’d that and BB flat called you both. Then he pots it, which represents you’re already behind or tied. If he has 2pr/3kind and improves, its to a boat which beats your top drawing hand unless you runner runner a bigger boat, and that doesn’t improve them to say 4kind. Drawing to your own A-high straight is prolly @best a split pot.

As I see it, you have 2 possible plays… Fold or raise, a flat call means you must improve with no more information on your opponents hand. Hopefully you take it down with the raise, otherwise hope you got your money in with the best hand… but this senario doesn’t go past this decision on the flop… so Raise or Fold, calling usually means you just can’t lay down a hand thats beat. ( or you have him stack’d and can afford to )

It is a no-limit game and let’s say the starting stacks are about 100 bbs each.

Would like to work this one through with you. What range did you assign to the BB’s defend? When I give him a fairly liberal defend range and a slightly expanded 3-bet range for the SB over TT+, AK, I am getting hero’s equity in the low 20’s on equilab with that flop, which is a fold. Ranges I am using are for 6-max which is why I expanded them slightly to account for 1 fewer hands on the table.

Don’t want to go much farther until we are on the same page other than to say these are the types of situations that I struggle with as well but probably for different reasons. It is where my cash-game experience collides with the GTO recommendations and I tie myself in knots going back and forth and not doing either approach well.

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Before I discuss the hand itself, let me state the caveat that I do not claim to know the GTO line in this spot. However, I have some intuitions about this hand which I believe is relevant.

I think it’s great that you are thinking in a hand versus range sense, evident from you trying to assign villian a range and considering your equity against it. However, this is an exploitative (and thus, exploitable) frame of thinking and will not fly against very strong players. Also, the value of these equity calculations you have performed are diminished by the fact that more chips are in play behind.

Instead, try adopting a range versus range mode of thinking. I do not have Snowie myself, but I believe it would recommend you to 4bet TT+, AK preflop as value in SB versus BTN spots, especially with a BB cold call. Thus, when this flop comes, you suffer a severe range disadvantage since you should not have nut straights and sets. At best, you have 98 and possibly K9s. Note that you do have plenty of two-pair combinations on this flop, which should further incline you towards folding AQ with no backdoor flush draw, since it is nowhere near the top of your range.

I understand that Snowie presents what it believes the EV of each action to be. Since folding is always 0EV, it must have been the case that both calling and raising were -EV. However, I would not overly worry about your supposed “mistake” if the EV of calling is not too negative.

Lastly, some thoughts about GTO and Snowie itself. Observe that frequencies and ranges are conspicuously missing in these questions. This is because GTO is meant to be an unexploitable strategy against the infinitude of mixed strategies in Holdem. More explicitly, when we assign ranges and assume tendencies about opponents, we are in fact using human simplifications on something with a very precise mathematical meaning. This is clearly a fallible approach and it will conflict with our intuitions a lot.

As for Snowie itself, it is an ML-based attempt to approximate what a GTO strategy might look like. There is no a priori guarantee that a neural network will converge to the holy grail; as you probably already know due to your mathematical background, any optimisation algorithm which is not analytic in nature has the risk of being trapped in local optima.

To conclude, I really wouldn’t worry about it.


Thanks for the response. One thing I did not realize was that it was ML rather than no-limit, which changes how I would look at the preflop ranges and therefore, changes the entire hand. I was not particularly worried about this representing a leak in my game; I have folded TPTK to one bet in similar situations for exactly the reasons you listed, that I have stronger hands in my range and I put my opponent on a range like Warlock does of TT+, AK. I was just surprised that such a strong hand would be considered a fold when there are still hands that we could be ahead of (1 pair + draw hands) and we have the gutshot. But it makes sense since we have sets and two-pairs in our range as well. I think the artificial nature of the question makes it hard to put the players on a particular range.

Your last point is something I was wondering about. Given that holdem seems far from solved, beyond heads-up, is it flawed to look at approach it this way without ranges or frequencies or other external factors. Just thought it was an interesting one to consider.

Snowie is working with NL, not mixed limit

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By ML, I meant machine learning, not mixed limit. I apologise for the confusion.

But yes, you are very right in questioning how close we are to knowing optimal lines for multiple players, especially when even HU NLHE is nowhere near solved.


Oh, interesting. I guess the min-3bet from the small blind seems really fishy then and makes the whole hand non-standard. Is that really a viable play? I would put my opponent on exactly AA-KK or basically any 2 cards because they could not expect to get folds and would have to play the hand out of position. So I don’t know where that leaves me in terms of the decision, but villain being a fish makes it harder to fold.

OK, I’ll just be a beggar and ask - what resources/training tools would you recommend for people trying to learn a GTO based strategy? Understanding that perfect is not the enemy of good, is a program like Snowie worth the time to work with?

I have sent you a friend request. We can discuss this over PM, which might be a better channel since I can give fuller responses and not feel as if I am spamming the forums with potentially unwelcome drivel.

About Joedirk’s comment on the min-3bet, I don’t think I have any real opinion on that, except that in any hand, even if our opponents are playing completely wack ranges and have questionable sizings, we must still make a decision facing a bet. So, among all three options presented, there has to be one which is best, which I guess is the whole point of the latest gold rush in poker to find an unexploitable strategy (i.e. a strategy that is capable of at least breaking even against all other strategies).


This is why I want to find a more solid basis for making decisions than my read on my opponents. As someone who does not always get quick or correct reads as easily as others may, I want something to guide my decisions based on not just a range of hands but on the full range of opponents. As I’ve stated before, I am new to this line of thinking and trying to come to grips with a lot of information that seems counterintuitive. I suppose that’s also the whole point of it though. Build the optimal foundation and only then deviate in specific situations where an exploitative line is more profitable than the balanced one.

Unfortunately, I do not understand how badly the model breaks down for non-standard bet sizing so I am at a total loss for how that play is even handled in learning GTO strategies. At what points do the models break down? All sorts of things that I know occur but I don’t know how they affect the decision trees.

To be honest, the sheer quantity of information I don’t know is a large part of the appeal to going down this path. Its much more of an intellectual pursuit than a practical one because I am never going to make a living at poker. Of course I want to be proficient at the game so I can enjoy tournaments more but that is as far as my ambitions go here.

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You won’t get rich chasing break-even situations.

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it’s indeed a difficult situation.
first of all his min 3bet seems quite strong, so he has for sure catched at least something of that board and probably a strong hand.
since he made a huge bet and he is a solid player, it screams strength with no draws (maybe a draw with a pair). also since he plays solid i can assume he knows you should have something good too because you called the 3bet. so i don’t see him make this plays with second pair or certainly not 3rd pair (maybe AJ). of course he could also have a smaller hand with the draw as backup. but since he had bet so big i see him much more often with a strong hand without a draw. which means most of his hands contain sets and overpairs. 2pair less likely because i dont see him 3bet like this with QJ or less. the flip side is that he could bet wide because he wants to cbet, but still the big betsize really feels like protecting big strength. but in fact all things considered we actually don’t really know much of him. so all actions but raising has their advantages and disadvantages. (raising seems very bad because it won’t provide information, since draws will still call unless you overpay for it)

advantage: the chances we are behind are certainly possible, we could save a lot of money by folding now instead of trying to see where we are by paying lots of money.
disadvantage: since he was the last aggressor and could also have draws with weaker pairs, we could also be folding the best hand, especcialy because it might be more likely since he could cbet this.

advantage: we could see a turn card and find out if it was just a cbet with a mediocre hand or a real strong hand that wanted to protect his set. even a scare card like an ace or 9 could even be very good, since as mentioned earlier, i put him most likely on a strong hand with no draw. which means if he checks we will probably be able to bluff him out of the hand. besides of all this we have position. if the scare card comes, we have information like checking/not checking. if it won’t come we could still fold to aggression or keep the pot low if he checks.
disadvantage: he made a huge bet of the pot size, so we have to pay a very big amount for a hand that probably isn’t ahead, besides of that it won’t give great information either.

all things considered, i lean really slightly more towards folding, mostly because of the lack of information. but this is one of the few hands where i can’t give a decent analysation of the best action. but i like it since it makes you think well about it :slight_smile:

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Well that means its the 1st hand, and each player has $500.
That makes it simple, in that senario, 98.245% of the time I fold to a $90 bet.
19.1% of my stack (470) with top pair, top kicker, on that board …
— Are you Freak’n nuts ??? — (not to fold)

Greetings Mr. D.& Replay Family,
First, let me qualify my input here. I’m not nearly as smart as I think I am, believe me. I’ve been doing this for a long long time though. So, you may laugh when you read about some of the old techniques that were used back in the day. When I run into someone who presents a problem / puzzle. I sometimes get out a deck of cards and physically look at and examine what’s been presented to me… That’s how we learned poker early on, no computers back then ya know, just you & your poker buddies sitting around going over all kinds of situations over and over again. Just say’in

Pre- Flop
Ace - Queen suited is an especially attractive for a hand on the button. But I don’t know anyone who would consider it a power hand, especially 5 handed. My poker experience tells me not to do anything more then call pre-flop.
If I hit a hand like that on the flop 5 handed, I’ve just landed my stealth hand into prominence and no one knows. If I don’t catch the hand, I have very little invested at this point and it’s certainly a whole lot easier to muck it if someone else jumps on it.

Post- Flop
Now to the meat & potatoes of our quiz. First, let summarize quickly. At this point the conservative player would have very little invested in the hand and a ton of leverage and nothing to lose with top pair & an Ace kicker. The aggressive player has called a raise and re-raised the pot himself preflop, and now the small blind next to him leads off with a pot size bet. Oh boy,…Who does something like that, makes a pot size bet out in front of another pre-flop re-raiser ? ? ? It’s more than 70% likely he’s going to be the winner of this pot…Remember him ? ? ? "Our opponent is a solid player, not a genius or complete fish or maniac". :sunglasses:




If its real money I will fold preflob. Will never call 6 times BB with AQs or AKs.

You don’t understand replay! You are doomed.

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